Counting Calories That Count

This is going to be one of those posts that I need to disclaim upfront.  I AM NOT A DIETITIAN OR A NUTRITION EXPERT NOR DO I HAVE ANY TRAINING IN NUTRITION OR HEALTH FOOD. But I did stay at a Holiday Inn Express one time. And I ate the biscuits and gravy at their continental breakfast. So that should give me the clout that I need to write this post.

No amount of exercise can undo a poor diet, right? I have come to the conclusion that the only way to really lose weight is to watch what you eat by counting calories and by controlling portions.

But I have also come to another conclusion.

Eating less calories WILL help you lose weight, BUT if you are ONLY worried about calories, then you may lose weight and NOT get healthy.  Huh? What’s that you say? I thought you just said counting calories is the best way to lose weight?…That’s right.  Counting calories will help you lose weight, but there is more to it than that.

This is a lifestyle change for me.  Not just a diet. Not just a limited calorie counting adventure in which I hopefully lose a lot of weight and then start eating all the stuff again that got me fat in the first place. I don’t plan on ever eating like that again. I am fueling my body with food.  Not satisfying a desire for luxury and self-indulgence.

So what are you saying Hank?…Get to the point dammit!

I can eat 1800 calories a day and still lose weight because I will be burning more calories than I take in. That part makes plenty of sense. But did you know that I can eat 1800 calories worth of ice cream and cake and still lose weight?  Is that possible? Yes. It is. But it is ridiculous. Not to mention that 1800 calories worth of cake and ice cream would not satisfy my hunger throughout the day and I would either breakdown and eat more or I would end up starving to death.  Did you know that there are foods that may be HIGHER in calories, but that the health benefits outweigh the calorie count? 200 calories of heart healthy avocado are SO MUCH better for you than a 100-calorie processed food snack pack.

So the goal is to eat 1800 calories, spread throughout the day, and MAKE SURE that the calories that I am taking in are ones that will be beneficial to my body.  By the way, 1800 calories of cake on a plate versus 1800 calories of turkey, broccoli, sweet potatoes, Greek yogurt, spinach, avocado, and black beans on a plate look so completely different. 1800 calories of nutritious food will satisfy you better. And the health benefits of the latter will have such better and lasting effects on your body.

I am trying to eat nutrient dense foods (veggies, fruits, legumes and beans) as 50-70% of my daily caloric intake. The health benefits from eating this way are immeasurable.  I am also really trying to avoid processed food.  The less steps between the food in its natural state and the state in which you put it in your mouth, the better.  When I fix a plate of food I try to have 50-70% raw or lightly cooked vegetables.  I throw some fruit in there if it is available. Then I try and have a serving size portion of lean protein.  While I am not a carb-counter by any means, I really try and limit the white foods (ie, potatoes, bleached rice, rolls or bread, other processed carbs.)  As a matter of fact, I have not had a serving of potatoes in one sitting since I have adopted my new lifestyle.

Here is a visual that explains how I would like to see myself eating for the rest of my life.  This is a food pyramid, but it is vastly different than the USDA endorsed version.

I know that many of you will think that I am crazy or that this is a stupid way of eating, but I can tell you that I have seen the light and the light wants me to eat my veggies.



8 comments to Counting Calories That Count

  • Christine

    I saw the light one day when I tracked 1 cup of strawberries and 1 cup of grapes. 108 calories. Take that 100 calorie snack pack!

    Do still eat tons of crap? Absolutely. Presently. But that will stick in my mind forever.

  • Ceanne
    Twitter: ceannesjourney

    Love this! And…I wholeheartedly agree. I have found that my weight loss does much better when I am including a lot more vegetables in my meals–even though the calories are the same. So…I actually believe that the kind of food you eat does affect weight loss overall. Let alone the cravings and other sorts of “allergy” affects that processed foods cause us as humans. I stay satiated and have very little cravings for sweets or carbs or any junk since I started eating meals that are mostly non-processed foods. We’re not meant to eat overprocessed foods and I also believe that is the reason why we are becoming so rapidly obese. Processed foods are killing us, and yet it’s what’s mostly stocked on the shelves. I wonder when the tipping point will come? When we join together and demand that better foods are supplied at better pricing…unfortunately, so many people are addicted to processed foods that they just don’t see the fog they are really in. Am I a bit fanatical about this??? Ya, I can get on a soapbox for causes. But…I’ve also come from a “normal” weight in my 20’s to gaining over 170 lbs over 20 years and now down by 64 by changing what I’m eating. I don’t consider this a diet–I’ve changed my lifestyle–I’ve changed my LIFE. Thanks for the soapbox space. ;o)

  • Jeremy Logsdon
    Twitter: stellarpath

    Love the pyramid. I like that you aren’t going for an all or nothing. I know so many people (thinking Atkins or paleo at the moment) who flat-out forbid some foods. I think it is much better to greatly reduce, but with my brain working the way it does, if I know I can’t have something, that’s all I want. [And for the record, I think paleo is WAY better than Atkins.] I just know that if I’m forbidden to eat cheese, then that’s what I’m going to crave.

  • Rachel

    I read somewhere recently that a healthy diet should include all types of foods in moderation, except vegetables. The article went on read that you shoulld be shoving vegetables into your mouth and eating as many as you want! Your post reminded me of that article. A diet full of veggies helps me maintain my weight and feel like I can make sane decisions when it comes to food. Those highly processed foods make me want more without filling me up and then creates insane overeating. Way to go Hank I feel like your post uncovers a skinny persons secret! Veggies!

  • Krissie J
    Twitter: phillynerdgirl

    I actually moved away from massive calorie counting for this very reason. I become too concerned with hitting that number range I was given for the day that I didn’t always eat well. “Oh, I need 200 more calories? Time for a Snickers!” It’s been a tricky thing to try to get the hang of not being so crazy about the numbers while focusing more on the servings and what those servings are composed of.

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